In the Trenches

Understanding the adolescent mind.

The Psychology of Women - What is the Meaning of High Heels?

Women, Beauty. Biological, high heels

There is no denying that women are fascinated with shoes.  Remember Cinderella would never have been married to Prince Charming if it wasn’t for those glass slippers and poor Dorothy would never leave OZ if not for those ruby red  pumps.  Lady Imelda Marcos owned 12,000 pairs and Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City had her share of shoes!  Wasn’t it $40,000 dollors worth of shoes?

High heels have been around for centuries and have been used for multiple purposes by both men and women.  At one point in time, men stopped wearing four inch heels, wigs and makeup and women continued on with the fascination.

In a 2007, Consumer Report National Research Center polled 1,057 women and found that women on average own 19 pairs of shoes.   Although, they wore only four pairs regularly while fifteen percent have over 30 pairs of shoes.  Forty three percent of women said they were moderately injured by shoes and eight percent reported serious injuries from sprains or breaks. Out of curiosity, I checked my closet and found 22 pairs of shoes which half were high heels.      

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While visiting a friend I had taken my high heels off and had left them at the front door. Her daughter, like so many other girls slipped those ruby reds on her feet and was transformed into a beautiful woman.  The shoe industry is well aware of why women love shoes and capitalize on the fact that they make women feel more beautiful, attractive, taller, thinner ... Very valuable commodities !

What does this all mean?  Let’s look at high heels in neuropsychological terms to find out if there could be another explanation for the relationship between women and high heels.  At  Wroclaw University in Poland, Dr. Pawlowski led a research study to find the formula for the perfect legs and the answer: they need to be longer than your torso, but not to long.  Male and female subjects were asked to evaluate the  attractiveness of different silhouettes of a man and woman.  They found that a person of average height (5ft 4in tall) was rated most attractive when their inside leg measurement was 30.5 in, which is 5% longer than the average leg measurement for a person that size.  In other, words you could be more attractive if you could lengthen your legs by a few inches.  The study could provide scientific basis for why some people think high heels make a woman more attractive.  Interestingly, it showed that very long legs were not as sexy.

And who wouldn’t want to look more beautiful if it means attracting more men and therefore more potential mates!

©2009 Wanda Behrens Horrell, All Rights Reserved

www.wandabehrenshorrell.com

Wanda Behrens-Horrell, L.C.S.W., N.C.Psy.A, is a child developmental psychoanalyst in Scarsdale, NY.

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